Star Trek

Star Trek is more than an institution. It is a piece of Americana–as much a part of our pop culture as Uncle Sam, Superman and Elvis. Arising during the sixties, it reflects the optimism of Kennedy’s new frontier by showing a society where technology has solved all our problems, and the art of government has been perfected.

In the past few years, however, Star Trek has shown a little wear around the edges and is in danger of falling off the radar. I have always maintained that because the audience for it is so large,diverse and vocal, no matter what you do with the franchise, a significant percentage of the fan base is going to hate it and you are going to hear from them. This is why there is so much disdain for perfectly fine series like Voyager or Enterprise. Most of us were content with them, if not in love, but a large vocal minority hated them and said so. However, when the possibility of doing something edgier in the Star Trek universe was brought up, it elicited howls from the faithful, who wanted it to remain true to Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic vision. This paralyzed the keepers of all things Trek. It’s been seven years since the last movie and Enterprise was canceled in 2005. Since the premiere of Next Generation, there has never been so long a hiatus for new material in the Star Trek universe.

My reasoning has always been that if you’re going to hear it from the fans anyway, why not blow it up and do something outrageous. Which is what J.J. Abrams did in Star Trek. Gosh, I never knew they were listening to me.

Paramount contacted Abrams after he’d wrapped up Mission Impossible III and asked him to take the reins of the franchise. Abrams was not a fan of the series and was hesitant, but I think Paramount knew that they needed a fresh perspective. After immersing himself in the material, Abrams decided to start over and tell the origin story of the original crew. This was, inevitably controversial, as many people feared a baby Star Trek movie.

That’s not what this is. They blew the thing up. Time travel is a part of this plot. Think temporal meddling and alternate time lines. Now don’t worry. This is science fiction; the time line can always be repaired, but I think you’re going to want to explore this slightly altered Federation for awhile.

I won’t bother much with the plot. It concerns a renegade Romulan, come back from the future, determined to exact revenge for the destruction of his planet. Kirk, Spock and McCoy, plus the other familiar crew members, now newly minted cadets, meet for the first time and team up to stop him.

First of all, let me say that the three leads are just about perfect. They physically resemble the originals (especially Zachery Quinto as Spock) and believably play the iconic roles in the styles of first actors, while adding their own stamp as well. The chemistry is amazing. I never realized how much I missed those characters. Chris Pine plays Kirk, as a cocky kid, who’s usually right and knows it. He has incredible charm and a winning smile that makes you forgive his obnoxiousness. Quinto’s Spock impersonation is uncanny. This is a Spock who is still struggling with his unique nature, trying to embrace the philosophy of pure logic from his Vulcan side, while dealing with his human emotions. Karl Urban’s McCoy is a gruff complainer but a dedicated doctor. Hopefully, he’ll be given more to do in the sequels.

The look of the film is slick. Unlike so many of the previous films, Star Trek feels like a movie and not a long episode of a series. The pace is rapid and there’s a rebellious tone to the script that is refreshing in the Star Trek universe.

There are a few continuity things that can’t be attributed to the alteration of the time line. And I find it unrealistic that they would give Kirk the captaincy of a flagship as his first command. Personally, I would like to see Kirk as an ensign or lieutenant, making mistakes and ticking off his superior officers, who in the end have to grudgingly admit that he got the job done. But I guess part of the tradition is that Kirk sits in that chair.

The buzz about Star Trek has been at a fever pitch ever since word from the previews sneaked out. Will this revive the franchise? I suspect so. It is awesome.


1 Response to “Star Trek”

  1. 1 Oknight May 11, 2009 at 3:24 am

    Nicely said, I’d add comments but have nothing to add

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